It’s a cloudy day (finally!) in Maryland. It’s trying so hard to rain, not very successfully I might add. But, it’s days like this that encourage soup making. After all the pounding sun we have had – some 40 days straight – some cloudiness makes me reach for warm comfort foods – soup! Earthy, complex, satisfying, and an aroma in the house that surrounds me with autumn.
Our co-op has bulk de Puy lentils, poor man's caviar, for a reasonable price.
French Lentil Soup with Thyme
2 C Lentils de Puy (or brown or green lentils)
3-4 T olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 hot pepper, finely minced
1 1/2 quarts hot water
1 14 oz can organic peeled diced tomatoes
2 T fresh thyme or 1 T dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp salt
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T freshly ground black pepper
2-3 T red miso (optional)
Rinse lentils and set aside. Pour olive oil into pressure cooker, turn heat to medium and add onion, garlic, celery, carrot and hot pepper and sauté until all vegetables are glazed and onion in lightly golden. Add lentils and stir to coat with oil. Add bay leaf, turmeric and thyme. Add can of diced tomatoes.
Add hot water, lock lid in place and bring to high pressure on high heat. Lower heat just to maintain high pressure without hissing and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down part way and then release it. Test lentils for tenderness, if not tender, cook over medium low heat, partially covered, until tender. Add salt, pepper and vinegar and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serves 4 twice.
Optional health addition: Stir 1/4 C of the hot soup liquid into 2 heaping T of red miso, blend and return to soup. Do not heat further, except to eating temperature in order to preserve the enzymes in the miso. I used my favorite South River miso, in this case, Three-year Barley. Available at Whole Foods, or other miso works.
If you do not have a pressure cooker (and you really should if you want convenience and health in one pot), simply simmer this soup over low heat in a deep, heavy soup kettle for about 45 minutes. For busy people, however, a pressure cooker and this book are the two best things I ever purchased – homemade, healthy, fabulous soup in 15 minutes, depending of course on well-honed knife skills!
Excellent served with toasted whole grain bread rubbed with garlic and topped with a little grated high quality aged cheese, garnished with fresh thyme leaves and a dusting of excellent paprika. Take four thick slices of crusty whole grain bread, rub with a cut clove of garlic followed by a little olive oil. Toast in oven under broil until crispy and sizzling. Remove and top with a little grated cheese and return to oven until cheese bubbles. Remove from oven and sprinkle with thyme leaves and paprika. For a nice presentation place a piece of this bread on top of soup when serving. Really yummy!